International Planetarium Society meets in Beijing

Posted by David Eicher
on Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The massive and beautiful building of the Beijing Planetarium, Beijing, China, site of the 2014 meeting of the International Planetarium Society, June 23, 2014 // Credit: David J. Eicher
Hello from Beijing, China, site of the 22nd International Planetarium Society (IPS) conference, which is taking place at the magnificent and spectacularly large Beijing Planetarium, in the heart of the city. Invited as one of four keynote speakers at this week’s event, I arrived in Beijing on Sunday afternoon and was able to enjoy the opening evening reception before passing out, after hardly sleeping a wink for a day. I want to thank Dr. Jin Zhu, director of Beijing Planetarium, the marvelous Ziping Zhang of the planetarium, and Thomas Kraupe, president of the IPS, for inviting me to come along and participate in this great event. It is an amazing gathering after only a day and has brought together more than 350 of the world’s leading planetarium professionals and educators.

The activities on Monday, June 23, were spectacular. The meeting is lavish, with flourishes such as elaborate meeting spaces, fancy meals, and an opening ceremony that would have served well at the Olympics, including singing, choreographed young Chinese schoolchildren presenting a message of hope and welcome to the group. The local organizers, led by Jin Zhu and accompanied by officers of the IPS, officially opened the meeting. Thomas Kraupe delivered an opening talk before giving way to a spectacular keynote address by Ouyang Ziyuan, father of China’s lunar exploration program, who spoke on the recent Chang’e 3 Moon mission and also numerous plans for future Chinese missions, including manned missions and a full-blown solar system robotic exploration of the planets.

Smaller sessions were also highly impressive, focusing throughout the day on educating the public, new techniques in planetarium shows, and amazing previews of new shows from a slew of planetarium companies, highlighted by Sky-Skan, and including NSC Creative, Evans and Sutherland, GOTO, RSA COSMOS, Konica Minolta, Carl Zeiss, and others. It was an amazing day, and I really enjoyed seeing some old friends, including Astronomy’s great contributing writers Martin Ratcliffe and Martin George, Glenn Smith, Jim Sweitzer, Mark Rigby, Carter Emmart, Shawn Laatsch, Derrick Pitts, Mark Webb, and others.

What a fantastic start to the conference!

Today I deliver my keynote talk, “Does the Universe Really Care About Itself? Communicating Astronomy in the 21st Century.” It will be another very busy day.

More to come . . .

For all images from this trip, visit the Online Reader Gallery.

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